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How to successfully burn CD-Rs

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                       How to successfully burn CD-Rs
                                  release 2

                         by Burnin' of UNKNOWN Prez
                               Oct 16th, 2001
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 Introduction
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 No matter what you're thinking now, this text file is not a CD-ROM or CD-R
 FAQ, I don't explain how CD burning works or anything like that. What I do is
 give some advice about how to successfully write CD-Rs and how to keep the
 amount of fucked up CDs minimal. And that all from the viewpoint of a user
 who messes with CD-Rs only occasionally and doesn't do it daily for backing
 up his documents. I don't consider myself to be a CD guru or anything, but I
 do have 16 CDs and have written exactly half of them myself. And I have a
 couple of tips for the non-expert users.


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  The most important thing: the CD-writer
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 If you know this field then you'll probably say that the CD-R is also very
 important. You're right. But it's still secondary, the writer comes first.
 Why? Because no matter how good the CD is, if the burner is not working
 correctly then you'll have just for fun thrown out money and time. And if
 the device is top class then you'll probably get a good result even if the
 CD wasn't the best. So, use the best writer you can get. If you use others'
 services to get your stuff on CD then look around and test all who do this
 kind of thing. It's worth the money. If you on the other hand have a burner
 and do the writing yourself then, well, good luck with it, there's no advice
 I can give you about the writer. But if you are just about to buy/loan a
 writer then hear around and take others' experience in consideration before
 you give out your precious money.


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  The second most important thing: CD-R
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 I don't know about the rest of the world but here in Estonia we have 3 types
 of CD-Rs: no-names which have virtually no identification about the
 manufacturer or the origin (this means such information ain't present on the
 cover of CD, I'm sure the clerks at the store more or less know where they get
 the stuff they sell  :), CDs by companies about whom nobody has ever heard of,
 CDs from big well-known companies. The later ones are usually the best, even
 if the price might be 2 or even more times higher than the no-names'.
 Although, to be honest, it depends entirely of the place you buy. For example
 I've seen such well-known names as Verbatim cost exactly as much as no-name
 ones. And over the time the CDs get cheaper. But if you can't find cheap
 well-known ones then don't worry, from my own experience I can say that the
 no-name ones don't have to be worse. That especially goes if you have an
 excellent writer (again an example: one of my best CDs is a no-name). The main
 problem by no-names is that you don't know if the CD-R you bought today is
 from the same company as the CD (which turned out to be good one) you bought
 yesterday. But if you've got money and time you might test a little bit. As
 for the expensive CDs: if possible then try to have the CD-R and the writer
 from the same company. Theoretically there should be less chances that the
 burner messes up. Also if you still got enough money then buy additionally a
 second CD for cases when the writer fucks up and you loose the first one. An
 unused copy is good anyway (you can for example sell it to someone in
 desperate need and ask a lot of money for it).


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 When writing
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 If you let someone else burn the CD then you can skip this chapter because the
 person has his own habits and it's not nice to get on someone's nerves with
 something you've just read about in a text file  :)  But if you do your own
 burning then some hints. First: the load. If possible then don't do anything
 on that computer, just let it be on it's own and write. Writers need that the
 data flows in a constant stream and if the HD suddenly gets a request from
 your word processor to load a 75MB document then there's a good chance that
 you can say goodbye to your new CD. Second: the speed. Unless you're in a
 hurry don't use the fastest writing speed. Today's hard drives are fast enough
 so there shouldn't be a problem with the data stream from HD not being
 constant but better to take care then to be sorry. The best would be if you
 would use the lowest speed your writing software offers. A good practice that
 several people employ is to not turn off the computer for the night but let it
 write. Even in the lowest speed it'll be ready in the morning (actually it'll
 be ready in less than 1,5 hours, so...).


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 After writing
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 When the writing's ready, don't delete the files. Or if you have software
 which let's you 'move' the files to CD-R then don't use this opportunity. Why?
 You MUST test the CD first. Although writers are getting better and better the
 process of burning CD-Rs is still an art with many dangers (which usually
 result in a defected CD) in it so one must be careful. That especially goes
 when the CD is going to be read in a different device than the one it was
 written. The best would be if you take the CD home and test it. If it's OK
 then you (or the owner of the computer where the CD was written) can erase the
 files. So how to test? The easiest way is to copy everything to HD. If no
 "Can't copy from drive x" messages appear then you don't have to worry about
 read errors. That of course doesn't necessarily mean that the data in CD is in
 fine. The best way is to use a data integrity checker which checks the
 previously generated checksums (which means you have to generate them before
 burning). If you use this option then take care how the checker treats file
 attributes. I don't know about WinS*** but under DOS the reported attributes
 depend on the CD-Extensions program and while the widely used MSCDEX says all
 files are read-only the freeware SHSUCDX doesn't set read-only to files. So,
 if possible, use software which only checks the contents of file and not the
 attributes. And as you are at it: use a fast checksum checker. 650MB (or 700MB
 or even more) is actually a huge anount of data and if you don't want to spend
 your evening waiting for the checker to finish then you mustn't use some slow
 utility. So forget programs which generate SHA or MD5 signatures, a simple
 CRC32 (or even CRC16) will do. There are two more things. First: the "data is
 OK" doesn't mean that CD can just be read. It means that the reading is fast.
 Not as by a classmate of mine: "I stick the CD into the reader in the morning
 and by evening I actually get some data from it" (although he was referring to
 the quality of reader). Second: don't be satisfied when the CD works fine on
 on the computer it was written on, test it on the machine where it will be
 primarily used. That usually is the case when you take the CD home and check
 it on your PC, but when the CD should for example go to a friend as her
 birthday gift then try that CD on her computer. There will always be the
 possibility that some x reader won't like the CD, but as long as the computer
 for which the R was meant for eats the plate everything's fine.


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 When somebody wrote the CD for you
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 Again, I don't know if this is being done anywhere else, but here not
 everybody owns a CD-burner. Only those who REALLY need it, have more money
 and/or are more fanatic. Some of those people also offer the service to burn
 the CD for you. If they're really nice or are your friends then they'll do it
 for free. In other cases they charge you for it. Now a couple hints
 considering this:
 Make sure he/she won't charge you or gives the money back or at least makes a
 new one when the writing fails or your computer refuses to read the CD. That
 especially applies when he/she also provides the CD-R and/or it's the first
 time you let him/her do this for you. If you don't get this guarantee then
 better use somebody else's service or be ready to get nothing for your money.
 The situation where the owner of the burner (and not you) gets the CD-R has
 some advantages. Mainly because the owner knows which CDs the writer will work
 with. Also if the writing is unsuccessful then he is the one who has messed
 up and you can get your money back. And as last: less stress because you
 aren't the one who has to run around and find a CD. But there's the chance
 that you could (and probably would) find a cheaper R.
 

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 My reader won't eat the CD!?!?!?
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 From all those people I know of who have burned (or let someone burn for them)
 a CD there's exactly 1 who hasn't experienced an unsuccessful write. And
 that's only because he has 1 CD-R. The more CDs you make the bigger the chance
 that the next one will be a failure. So be prepared for it. That doesn't mean
 that you have to sweat by every writing session. What shall happen that will
 happen. It's like death: sooner or later it gets everyone. Relax, man, don't
 freak out, the failure by writing ain't so terrible as dying, I was just
 joking  :)  So take it with humor and get used to it. If you listened to my
 advice then you still have the files and you also have the second CD so go
 ahead and try again.


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 Conclusion
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 Burning CD-Rs is like the rest of your life: whatever you do, you hope the end
 result won't blow up in your face. But, there is one difference: when
 something goes wrong then you can make things OK with minor expenses. At
 least when you listened and did what I told you  :)